New iPhone Features Relevant to Doctors

Apple unveiled its newest iPhone this week and amidst the many features that were touted on stage two stood out as being potentially game-changing to health care.

This article published with permission from iMedicalApps.com.

Iltifat Husain, MD, (@iltifatMD) contributed to this piece

On Tuesday, Apple unveiled the enhanced iPhone 5S, the colorful iPhone 5C, and the soon-to-be ubiquitous iOS7. While the smartphone playing field has leveled dramatically, Apple remains second-to-none at introducing relatively new features to the mainstream.

Whether it’s the smartphone touch screens, the high-resolution Retina Display, voice-controlled personal assistants or the initially mocked tablet, Apple has the ability of taking technology already present, and then making it the industry standard.

Amidst the many features that were touted on stage including upgraded cameras, faster processors, enhanced location-based transactions, two features stood out as being potentially game-changing to health care: Touch ID fingerprinting, and the M7 activity sensor.

Touch ID fingerprint sensor

Integrated into the iPhone 5S’s familiar home button is a fingerprint sensor. After acquiring industry leader Authentec in 2012, rumors swirled of a fingerprint sensor coming to the iPhone.

Fingerprint sensors on laptops (and even phones) are not new. My Thinkpad in 2006 had a fingerprint sensor. However, they were slow to catch on because the hardware has been finicky, slow and burdensome. According to early reports, the iPhone’s Touch ID sensor works flawlessly, not fazed by different angles and orientations. Obviously, only once the masses have had the opportunity to use Touch ID will we only know how well it works.

In this age of HIPAA, patient privacy and personal data is of the utmost importance. As more and more doctors are relying on cloud storage and smartphones for clinical practice, a misplaced iPhone could lead to legal headaches.

Even at hospitals I’ve worked at that require password-protected lockscreens, many employees ignore these restrictions or find them burdensome. The goal of the fingerprint sensor goes beyond simply replacing a passcode: it aims to introduce security for the many users who never used a passcode to begin with.

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